Slow Cook

The Perfect Instant Pot Soy Chicken

November 25, 2019
Photo by Jie Wang
Author Notes

With this recipe, every lover of soy chicken can easily make it at home. Every home chef has an opinion of what goes in this dish, but my signature ingredient is bacon! —GG Wang

Test Kitchen Notes

Growing up, my favorite dish was my mom’s see yao gai (“soy sauce chicken”)—not for the chicken, but for the sauce. I loved how it, alone, upgraded dried mushrooms or a bowl of rice, and would always leave my lips coated in a chickeny-sheen. And I wasn’t alone—at a family potluck, I caught Ryan and Kevin, my honorary cousins if not siblings, spooning the sauce straight from the platter (“dude… it’s the sauce!”). Too embarrassed to ever exercise my accented Cantonese, I reduced see yao gai to “Brown Sauce Chicken,” and later, for the sake of expediency, “BSC”.

GG Wang’s version, here, a “BSC in an IP” if you will, rids the home cook of any worry of a cooked-through, but not over-cooked whole bird. But let’s not forget The Sauce: GG’s version is heavily spiced, rich with both light and dark soy, and slicked with the goodness that comes with cooking with not only one whole animal, but *two* (what a signature add!). And if reading about plopping a whole raw chicken into an IP is as saucy to you as it is to me, just wait until you try it yourself. —Coral Lee

  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • 1 Fresh Whole Chicken (organ parts optional)
  • 1/4 cup Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Light Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Chinese Cooking Wine or Sherry
  • 3 pieces Star Anise
  • 1 piece Bay Leaf
  • 1 piece Cinnamon Stick
  • 6 pieces Dried Shitake Mushroom, soaked and softened
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Ginger, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Fresh or Dried Galanga (Sand Ginger), cubed (optional)
  • 6 pieces Fresh Garlic Cloves, smashed
  • 3 tablespoons Brown Sugar, light or dark
  • 2 tablespoons Fermented Black Bean Sauce (optional)
  • 3 pieces Shallots, halved
  • 2 pieces Scallion, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons Sesame Oil
  • 1-2 cups Lukewarm Water
  • 2 tablespoons Avocado Oil (Or any neutral flavored vegetable oil)
  • 1-5 pieces Dried Red Pepper, whole
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup Smoke Bacon Ends, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Whole White Pepper Corn (optional Black Pepper Corn)
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in room temperature water for at least 1 hou
In This Recipe
  1. Crisp the bacon in a medium skillet set over medium-heat. Set aside crisped bacon and rendered fat.
  2. In a small, dry pan set over medium-low heat, toast the star anise, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and peppercorns until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Set the Instant Pot to “Saute” mode. Add the oil and sugar to the insert of the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 7-10 minutes. Add ginger, galangal, if using, garlic, shallots, and scallions, peppers, and fermented black bean sauce, if using. Cook until the aromatics have softened, and are starting to caramelize, another 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the rehydrated mushrooms and their water, toasted spices, crisped bacon, rendered fat, cooking wine, dark soy, and light soy. Stir to combine well, scraping up any browned bits. Add in chicken, breast side up, then pour in just enough water to barely cover the chicken. Set the Instant Pot to “Slow Cook”, and the timer for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  5. Tilting the chicken upwards, lift and drain off any excess sauce. Place chicken on a serving platter and set aside. Fish out the mushrooms, and plate them around the chicken (or just eat them before anyone else notices, yum!)
  6. While the chicken is resting, use a slotted spoon to strain out and discard the rest of the solids. Set the Instant Pot to “Saute”, and reduce the liquid until slightly thickened, about 7-10 minutes. Stir in vinegar and half of the sesame oil, then transfer sauce to a gravy bowl for serving.
  7. The last step seems cosmetic, but it's essential for an eye-popping presentation. Brush the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil all over the bird. Now carve it up and enjoy with your family and friends!
  8. Immediately switch to Slow Cook mode. Set to 1 hour and 30 minutes on "Low." Close the lid. Make sure the steam vent is open. Let the magic begin!
  9. After 1 hour and 30 minutes, a less than 4-pound chicken should have cooked through. Take temperature from the thickest part of the bird. The reading should be at least 165° Fahrenheit. Lift the chicken and place it in a wide shallow bowl, keep it breast side up. Fish out the mushrooms and plate them around the chicken, or just eat them before anyone else notices. Yummy!
  10. While the chicken is resting, pour the rest of the liquid through a filter into a sauce pot, boil and reduce it. You may also add starch to thicken it fast. Stir in the dark vinegar as soon as the flame is off. Pour into a gravy bowl with a spoon, drizzle with sesame oil.
  11. The last step seems cosmetic, but it's essential for an eye-popping presentation. Brush the sesame oil all over the bird. Now carve it up and enjoy with your family and friends!
  12. Note: 1) This recipe is for the 6-qt Instant Pot. 2) This is a very tolerant dish. Nothing needs to be exact. Although, it is absolutely essential that you stare at the Instant Pot for 90 minutes. :-)

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